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jorgenswest

Projecting the Twins: Early 2013 ZIPS

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The early ZIPS projections were reported midweek and the AL Central has sobering information for the Twins.

http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/hotst...teams-2013-mlb

Note: Unfortunately, you will need an insider account to access the link above.

The Twins in their construction are projected for 66 wins and 5th place in the AL Central. Entering the 2012 season they had a projected 70 win team from ZIPS so in the ZIPS lens the Twins have dropped back some.

Clearly, the poor starting rotation has a significant impact on the performance. Scott Diamond and his poor k/9 ratio is the number 1 starter projected for a 4.85 ERA.

Gleeman and the Geek had an interesting debate last week about indicators and performance. Runs given up is what matters. However runs given up in 2012 is not the best indicator of runs given up in 2013. Strikeout, walk, ground ball and home run rates are better indicators for 2013.

Diamond's indicators and his three year past shows that ZIPS expects a significant regression.

The projections have a hard time even finding a 5th starter listing Duensing but giving him an innings number and projection of a reliever/spot starter. The Twins can gain some ground by replacing Blackburn's and DeVries' projection. Replacing Blackburn and DeVries with league average performance will help significantly. Maybe even 6-8 wins. That only gets them to 74.

The real concern has to be projections for the Twins offense.

Willingham, Doumit, Mauer, Morneau and Span are all projected to regress. Why? All five had a relatively healthy season compared to previous and that can not be expected again. Four of the five are in their 30s. In the steroid era, some players kept their peak performance well into their 30s. That is not likely the case.

ZIPS OPS projections for these 5

Willingham .890 to .819
Mauer .861 to .812
Morneau .773 to .767
Doumit .781 to .722
Span .738 to .700

Morneau's is not a mathematically significant drop, but it also isn't a return to his previous level and mediocre play for a 1B.

ZIPS projections are based on 3-4 years of previous data based on the player's age. The Twins can choose to ignore them. Somehow they need to convince the faithful that they can add three pitchers and all will be OK. It is necessary for ticket sales.

I would suggest that the Twins can not be fixed for 2013. The only long term fix is to repair the minor league system.

How do they turn it around?

1) Sign no one to a multiyear contract that will commit the Twins beyond their age 32 season.

2) Trade off declining assets and build the system. Trading Willingham is a must. He is owed 14 million (2 years). He can not be put in LF any longer. He is unlikely to be more valuable than he is this off season. Someone will take on all 14 million and give the Twins prospects

3) Similarly Morneau has 14 million left over 1 year. The Twins should trade him and "buy" prospects in the form of picking up a significant portion of his contract.

4) Do not offer extensions that commits the Twins to anyone beyond their age 32 season. That means pay Burton his due this year and do not extend him beyond 2013. Hopefully he is a tradeable asset midseason.

http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php?1968...Old-Set-Up-Man

5) Does Doumit have any value in a trade? Is it reasonable to think his 2014 season will be anything like his 2012 season?

http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php?1390...er-in-Baseball

6) Wait out the free agent season. Although Ryan would disagree, there are plenty of starting pitchers on the market. Some will be left with few suitors The Twins should be able to sign some of them to a 1 year deal. If the deal is one year, age should not be a factor.

It is critical that they no longer sign decline phase players to multiyear contracts. They did it in the 90s with no success. The 1997-1998 teams were among the oldest Twin rosters.

The 2012 roster is comparable to those of 98-99. Doing so will only continue the cycle of mediocrity.

How do they turn it around?

Go young. Build the system.

They did it in 1982. The average batter and pitcher age were both lowest in organization history.

It paid off.

They did it again in 1999. Average batter age dropped 3 years and average pitcher age dropped 2.4 from 1998.

Paid off again.

Can you wait for the pay off? Would you rather be mediocre?

I fear the Twins management doesn't trust the ticket buying public to accept the growing pains of building the system. They will sign decline phase players to multiyear contracts to satisfy the fans and drive ticket sales.

This article will be written again next year as it was last year.

http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php?332-...-of-mediocrity
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Comments

  1. mnfireman's Avatar
    I agree with going young. 15 years ago there were no prospects to fast track. 8-10 years ago there were major league players at most positions, so letting the kids develop one level at a time made sense. Now, the team needs major league talent at several positions, trade what they can to get this talent or to stock the minor leagues and start bringing up/advancing Arcia, Sano, Hicks, etc... to see what they are made of. Several teams have done this over the past few years and for every Harper, Machado, Garcia, etc... there have been failures and there is no promise that those who have had success will sustain it, but you don't know if you don't try. 6-8 year plans for every prospect just seems too generic, players mature at different rates and handle success/failure differently.
  2. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    I am totally with you. Reading your article from March of 2012 was eye-opening. I thought going into 2012 that things would be fine and that 2011 was just a blip. I was wrong. I worry about 2013 as well, but not as much about 2014 and after that.

    That will change for me depending on the moves they make this winter. If they sign Jeremy Guthrie and Joe Blanton types to 2-3 year deals, I'll start to worry about 2014 and 2015. Those moves do nothing to improve a team by 30 wins. If they sign guys like that, they won't trade Morneau or Willingham, possibly not even at the deadline in July.

    My biggest worry is that the team is roughly 5 games under .500 around the All-Star Break. This is pretty much what happened in 2011 and the team did not make the moves they needed to make to improve the team in the long-term. Granted, keeping Kubel and Cuddyer gave them more draft picks, one of which ended up being Berrios, but that can't happen this time.

    If they wait on Willingham, he could start to decline. Honestly, his value is likely as high as it will ever be. If they don't trade Morneau, my worry is that they will re-sign him and that would be a mistake in my opinion.

    I have a lot of worries! Regardless, the moves they make this off-season need to be shark moves. If they miss out on the big names, they should pass on the lesser names altogether and start a massive overhaul of the roster, in the name of improving the farm system. The farm system is actually on the rise, and infusing it with more talent would make things a lot more interesting come 2014 and beyond.

    Thanks for the article, I really enjoyed it and it really got me thinking (as you can see)!
  3. TopGunn#22's Avatar
    I'm all for trading Willingham to the Braves for pitching and Span to the Rays for pitching. Look at the lineups of the Rays, A's Braves...they are underwhelming. What those teams can do is PITCH. We could/should move BOTH Willingham and Span to load up in the primary area we are WEAK...Pitching.
  4. TopGunn#22's Avatar
    If we traded both Willingham and Span, we would have Revere in CF and Parmalee in RF. We could come up with an affordable LF"er. But what if we had Shields/Hellickson...Minor/Hanson, Delgado/Teheran in our rotation? Throw in a FA like Edwin Jackson.
    SP: Shields, Minor, E. Jax, Diamond, (Baker, Gibson, Hendricks, Deduno). What a different rotation. One that could contend in the A/L/ Central.
  5. Kwak's Avatar
    Let's not pipe dream about 2013. There is merit in trading some talent--provided the yield is bountiful. It's tempting to trade Willingham, but to dismiss his future contributions is just wrong. Consider the near revolt of season ticket holders after 2011, trading every useful veteran position player except for Mauer would yield a volcanic eruption. What's so wrong with older pitchers? Most of those in the next wave of Twins talent is at least two years away so some placeholders are needed--people better than the 2012's rotation to say the least. It's the owner's money, not yours. If we fans have to watch a losing team in 2013, at least make them interesting enough so that there is some realistic chance that the team could win the day's game.
  6. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kwak
    If we fans have to watch a losing team in 2013, at least make them interesting enough so that there is some realistic chance that the team could win the day's game.
    That is the other end of the argument. A reasonable position.

    Trading aging major league assets for prospects will cost wins in 2013 and reduce ticket sales.

    The 1982 and 1999 seasons were among the Twins poorest. They were also the first painful step towards the playoffs.
  7. Boom Boom's Avatar
    I'm sure if I was an ESPN insider I could point out how ZIPS projects Revere, Florimon, Dozier, Carroll, and Plouffe to pick up the slack for all those regressing guys.
  8. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom
    I'm sure if I was an ESPN insider I could point out how ZIPS projects Revere, Florimon, Dozier, Carroll, and Plouffe to pick up the slack for all those regressing guys.
    Not unless you are looking at different ZIPS projections than I am.

    Carroll - .261/.331/.318
    Revere - .285/.325/.332
    Florimon - .237/.291/.331
    Dozier - No projection
    Plouffe - .241/.300/.422

    Those all look reasonable to me. Carroll is old. Revere's on base is completely dependent on his BA. Florimon and Dozier are unproved and have no minor league track record. Plouffe should have power.

    These projections are mid-point projections though. There is upside, but I agree that the offense could regress and probably is more likely to regress than improve.
  9. Boom Boom's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson
    Not unless you are looking at different ZIPS projections than I am.

    Carroll - .261/.331/.318
    Revere - .285/.325/.332
    Florimon - .237/.291/.331
    Dozier - No projection
    Plouffe - .241/.300/.422

    Those all look reasonable to me. Carroll is old. Revere's on base is completely dependent on his BA. Florimon and Dozier are unproved and have no minor league track record. Plouffe should have power.

    These projections are mid-point projections though. There is upside, but I agree that the offense could regress and probably is more likely to regress than improve.
    Well, that .237/.291/.331 projection for Florimon looks OK as long as he provides his patented gold-glove defense.

    Evidently ZIPS is projecting that Dozier will be swallowed into the Bermuda Triangle.
  10. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom
    Well, that .237/.291/.331 projection for Florimon looks OK as long as he provides his patented gold-glove defense.

    Evidently ZIPS is projecting that Dozier will be swallowed into the Bermuda Triangle.
    Leaving them out was my error. I didn't expect someone would infer that I was hiding the positive. Unfortunately, they don't pick up the slack. Plouffe and Revere's numbers were essentially the same as 2012.

    Dozier 247/296/348

    As for Florimon and defense. There is no evidence that he is an elite defender. His UZR/150 of 5 was well below the league average. He has had flashy and inconsistent performance in the minors. He was taken off the 40 man roster twice in the last year and the Twins were the only interested team.

    Escobar, on the other hand, had a string of three or four years ranked as the best defensive middle infield prospect in the White Sox system. He can't hit either but being two years younger offers hope for growth that Florimon doesn't have.
  11. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    I'd like to see what Escobar could do with some consistent playing time. He likely won't set the world on fire, but his defense could help a lot if the Twins go with their usual pitching philosophy.
  12. beckmt's Avatar
    This assumes the Twins do not add ptiching this offseason. Adding a couple of pitchers would get us to the area that is discussed above, middle 70's in wins. Adding 3 ptichers and a shortstop could get us to about .500. At that point luck could go either way. As long as we do not trade future(top of the line ) prospects, this seems to me to be a reasonable way to go.
  13. glunn's Avatar
    I agree with those who feel that the Twins should go young.
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